Compared to skiing and ice hockey, snowboarding is a relatively new winter sport. Emerging in its present form during the 1960s, it grew rapidly in popularity in the following two decades and became a Winter Olympics sport in 1998. However, there is still little knowledge about the incidence and pattern of injuries among elite snowboarders. A team of researchers from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences sought to throw some light on the matter, conducting a study among snowboard athletes participating in various World Cup disciplines on the International Ski Federation (FIS) list.
The researchers based their conclusions on retrospective interviews with 1,432 male and female athletes. They gathered data at the end of each season between 2007 and 2012, detailing all acute injuries suffered during competition and training.
The analysis of the data showed 574 injuries in total, which translated into an overall rate of 40.1 injuries per 100 athletes during a season. Among those, 171 were injuries sustained during FIS WC competitions, meaning 6.4 injuries per 1,000 runs. The discipline with the highest trauma risk was found to be snowboard cross (11.9 per 1000 runs). Halfpipe came next with 6.3, big air was third with 3.6 and parallel giant slalom/parallel slalom (PGS/PSL) ranked fourth with 2.8. Snowboard cross was also found to pose the highest risk of acute injuries (resulting in more than 28 days of absence).
According to the study report, which has been published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the knee is the body part at greatest risk of injury, accounting for 17.8% of trauma incidents. The shoulder/clavicle was the injured area in 13.4% of cases, while the head/face sustained injuries in 13.2%.